ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

In the Aftermath of the Election, Many Call for Voting Standards

New York, Nov 03, 2004

While the returns were still being counted following a closely fought Election Day, calls for electronic voting standards have been renewed by some public interest groups. Nearly 50 million Americans across 27 states used some form of electronic voting system to cast their ballot on November 2, and despite what some news outlets called a relatively smooth voting process, voters across the United States reported problems with electronic touch-screen systems.

Machines in New Orleans, Miami and suburban Philadelphia failed to boot-up when the polls opened on the morning of November 2, leading to long lines at polling places and prompting some to turn away from the polls, according to activists with the Election Protection Coalition. The nonpartisan group said it had received more than a thousand complaints involving a variety of machines from California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. The most common complaint was that machines had recorded votes improperly. Representatives of companies that manufacture e-voting equipment insisted that most problems were due to human error, rather than the equipment.

Critics of touch-screen voting systems cite the lack of a paper trail to document votes. Moreover, due to their closed source technology, machines cannot be examined for vulnerability to fraud or hacking. Other security concerns were raised when machines in a few districts were left unattended the night before Election Day, or were set up by voting officials of only one political party.

Beyond the appeal for technical standards related to e-voting, newspaper op-eds across the country are calling for an overhaul of the entire electoral process, starting with national standards for voting. A CNBC online poll asked Internet users: “Would standardizing across the country help the United States' Election Day problems?” More than 85% of respondents agreed that standardization would be a positive move.

The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is an independent bipartisan agency authorized to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource of information on various matters involving the administration of federal elections. The group was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), which allocated nearly $4 billion to states over three years to allow them to purchase new voting machines, train poll workers and provide computerized lists of registered voters.

As part of the EAC, a fifteen-member Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) was formed to make recommendations to the EAC on voluntary standards and guidelines related to voting machines. The committee is currently chaired by Dr. Arden Bement, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and includes the appointment of a representative from ANSI, and from ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Related article: ANSI Appointed to Election Assistance Commission's Technical Guidelines Development Committee

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative